Basketry & Native Foods Festival At The Desert Museum Nov. 12 – 13

October 13, 2015
By Theresa Delaney
By Theresa Delaney

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is always the ideal spot for Tucson locals and visitors to connect with the nature, history and deeply-rooted culture that is unique to the Sonoran Desert.

However, the Celebration of Basketry and Native Foods Festival & Symposium on November 12 and 13 will be the ultimate immersion experience, with indigenous food tastings, basket weaving circles, and over a dozen presentations on native cuisine and ingredients, community, and preservation.


November 12 and 13, 10am to 4pm

The symposium features a full agenda of “hands-on basket weaving workshops; chef demos and tastings; presentations about traditional foods and health; food sovereignty; traditional agricultural practices, and a tasting lunch featuring indigenous foods prepared by guest chefs.”

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Notable speakers and chefs include:

  • Nephi Craig – Executive Chef at the Sunrise Park Resort Hotel and founder of the Native American Culinary Association (NACA)
    • Topic: “Ancestral Memory and Indigenous Cuisine: Pillars for Social Recovery, Healing, and Decolonization”
  • Ofelia Zepeda – PhD, Regents’ Professor of linguistics and co-founder of the nationally recognized American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona
    • Topic: “Native Language Revitalization, Food, & Eating”
  • Dr. Elizabeth Hoover – Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University
    • Topic: “The Challenges and Success of Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty in American Indian Community Gardens”
  • Chef Felicia Ruiz – Co-Founder/Head Chef of Lola Tapas and Co-Founder/Pastry Chef of Lux Coffeebar in Phoenix.
    • Topic: “Creating Kitchen Wisdom”

In the past, the symposium was closed to the public, but this year the museum is opening it to the public. Guests are invited to join indigenous cooks, chefs, farmers, scholars, artists, nutritionists, historians, seed savers and basket weavers to learn about and celebrate indigenous people, land and food.

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Taste of Native Cuisine: Special Evening Dinner & Reception

November 13, Reception at 5:30pm, Dinner at 6:30pm.

Top Native American Chefs will prepare multi-course dinner featuring traditional and indigenous ingredients from across the Americas. Along with each dish, the chef will lead a discussion of their dish and the inspirations behind it.

Participants include James Beard Award winning author Chef Lois Ellen Frank; Emmy award winning Culinary Historian Chef Loretta Barret Oden; Executive Chef and Founder of the Native American Culinary Association Nephi Craig; and Chef de Cuisine Walter Whitewater. They will be joined by talented Sous Chefs Terri Ami, Lorencita Billiman, Claudia Serrato and Karlos Baca.

Held at the Ocotillo Cafe at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Dinner is $150 per person. Seating is limited.


November 14 and 15, 9am to 4pm

If you’re seeking a more casual way to enjoy the food, basketry and cultural traditions of Native peoples from across the Americas, simply visit the Museum and take part in the two-day festival.

Throughout the weekend, enjoy cooking demonstrations and tastings by Native chefs from around the country including James Beard Award winner Lois Ellen Frank, including Hopi Piki bread making and Yurok Alder roasted salmon.

The Basketry Market will feature top weavers from across the United States and Mexico, including internationally acclaimed weaver Terrol Dew Johnson and watch performances by traditional dancers and singers including the renowned Apache Crown Dancers.

A block of rooms has been set aside for Symposium/Celebration attendees with a special rate at the Desert Diamond Casino Hotel. To get the special rate, reservations must be made by October 28, 2015.

For more information, visit

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